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Sunbed decision met with disappointment by clinicians

Sunbed decision by Health Committee met with disappointment by clinicians

The decision this week by Parliament’s health committee to reject an outright ban on commercial sunbed use has been greeted with extreme disappointment by skin specialists.

The New Zealand Dermatological Society, a professional body of medical specialists working towards the diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases, is dismayed a recommended ban will extend only to those under 18 or those deemed fair skinned.

The Society’s president, Dr David Nicholls, says while the partial ban is a step in the right direction and recognises an adult’s right to choose, it is not enough. The Society is urging people of any age to choose not to put their skin at risk.

“A partial ban makes no sense because the evidence is unequivocal that whatever age you are there is increased risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers from using sunbeds.”

“Any tan is the result of significant DNA damage to your skin so there is no such thing as a safe tan. Sunbeds have been promoted as a safe way to tan yet surveys have also shown that many sunbeds are significantly stronger than the outdoor sun.”

In 2009 the World Health Organisation classified UV radiation from tanning beds as carcinogenic to humans and concluded that first exposure to sunbeds before the age of 30 increased the risk of developing melanoma by 75%.

“The facts are there. Sunbeds contribute to skin cancer so until a complete ban is in place we encourage people not to choose unnecessary extra harm to their skin.”

Dr Nicholls believes it is likely that New Zealand will eventually follow Australia's lead, with commercial sunbed use banned in all states except Western Australia, which is now also looking into a total ban, as is Ireland.

More information can be found on the New Zealand Dermatological Society website at


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